Munching on Naked Lunch

         A very odd film I watched this weekend was 1991's Naked Lunch, directed by David Cronenberg, and based on the novel of the same title by William S. Burroughs. In a nutshell this movie is loosely based on the true story of the author's addiction to heroin, among many other substances, and its effect on the creative writing process. This movie tells how the novel was written.

         If you like crazy, hallucinogenic drug scenes, this movie bears a lot of resemblances to Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, directed by Terry Gilliam in 1998. Set in an Islamic town of Africa in the 50's, Bill Lee (Peter Weller), exterminator, comes home to find his wife (Judy Davis) shooting up on what appears to be his bug spray (a heroin reference). After being persuaded by his wife to try the substance, Bill too becomes addicted.

         Getting lost in constant hallucinations, Lee discovers what he thinks is a government plot being run by alien bugs! While intoxicated, Lee "accidentally" kills his wife by trying to shoot a glass off her head. As a result he flees to what he calls Interzone, to be a spy (in reality the International Zone).

         Some of the strangest scenes of the movie involve Lee sitting at his typewriter, a giant oozing alien head, while it tells him what to do and dispenses fluid for him to drink. He also addresses Burrough's alleged homosexual tendencies. I think the heart of the film was the guilt "Lee" probably felt for his wife's death.

         Although this movie was at times difficult to keep watching, many scenes were so bizarre I had to keep watching. Again I would recommend this movie to anyone who is interested in the randomness of drug culture in cinema or just how destructive the trap of drug and alcohol addiction has been to so many, many writers.

Adam Cecil

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